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Hachisuka Shigeyoshi

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  • Japanese: 蜂須賀重喜 (Hachisuka Shigeyoshi)

Hachisuka Shigeyoshi was the tenth lord of Tokushima han.

He was born the fourth son of Satake Yoshimichi, lord of Akita shinden han, and was adopted into the Hachisuka clan in 1754/6, when the daimyô Hachisuka Yoshihisa fell severely ill. He succeeded Yoshihisa later that year.

By the 1750s, Tokushima politics were controlled by a cabal of powerful families – the Inada, Kashima, Yamada, Hasegawa, and Ikeda – and the Hachisuka daimyô was relatively weak. These were the only families eligible to be karô, and the karô were the only ones eligible for the posts of executor (shiokiyaku) or Edo executor, the two most powerful positions in the domain.

Many of the chûrô in Tokushima, middling officials below the rank of the karô, saw the accession of Shigeyoshi as an opportunity to seek the new daimyô’s alliance against the power of these five karô families. Shigeyoshi chose, however, to restructure the domain leadership entirely, restructuring retainer stipends, and creating more opportunities for lower or middle-ranking retainers, such as the chûrô, to hold the highest-ranking positions, including executor. Both karô and chûrô rebelled against this, however, seeing it as an affront and a threat to their patrimonial claims to certain positions. In 1759/3/2, Shigeyoshi was able to get the chûrô to rally behind him, however, by threatening to resign, and ordering one of the problematic karô, Yamada Oribe, dismissed and placed under house arrest. Yamada continued to cause problems, however, conspiring to appeal to the shogunate to have Shigeyoshi replaced by Hachisuka Shigetaka, a grandson of Hachisuka Tsunanori, the fifth lord of the domain. Shigeyoshi consolidated his power, dividing the karô, ordering Yamada to commit seppuku, and having two others, Kashima and Hasegawa, placed under arrest.

Finally, Shigeyoshi put his reforms into practice, beginning in 1761. His reorganization of the stipends was known as yakuseki yakudaka. He lowered the stipends of the highest-ranking retainers, raised the stipends of the lower-ranking ones, and ordered a cadastral survey of the 14,000 koku lands of Inada Kurobei, a sub-enfeoffed retainer whose lands, by patrimonial authority, could have been argued to have been immune to such intervention. Many of those who opposed him were imprisoned.

The offended karô still had their victory in the end, though. When Shigeyoshi arrived in Edo on 1769/10/22, he was presented by the shogunate with an indictment of his conduct. On 1769/10/30, he was ordered to resign his position, in favor of his son Hachisuka Haruaki. As Haruaki was only 12 years old, the karô clique now returned to effective power, with Hasegawa Ômi in the lead.

References

  • Mark Ravina, Land and Lordship in Early Modern Japan, Stanford University Press (1999), 176-179.
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